By Vanne Elaine Terrazola
Senator Cynthia Villar has proposed the use of locally-produced milk in the implementation of the National School Feeding Program to not only help address malnutrition among school children but to also provide livelihood for Filipino dairy farmers.
Villar, chair of the Committee on Agriculture and Food, proposed the insertion of a new section mandating the use of locally-produced milk in government’s feeding program in Senate Bill 1279 or the “Pagkaing Pinoy para sa Batang Pinoy Act” sponsored by Sen. Bam Aquino.
Under the Villar amendment, the Department of Education shall collaborate with the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), the Philippine Carabao Center (PCC), and the National Dairy Authority for the incorporation of a milk feeding program into the proposed National School Feeding Program.
She said the use of locally-produced milk in cycle menu and recipes should be encouraged and developed to increase livelihood opportunities of dairy farmers and boost the local dairy industry.
“This program will not only provide an opportunity for the children of less privileged families to improve their nutritional status but will also motivate farmers to produce more milk because of the ready local market where they can supply their products,” Villar said.
Villar had suggested tying up the DSWD’s Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program with the PCC for a milk-feeding program using locally-produced milk.
Under the program, 2,019 liters of milk per day were purchased from poor or smallhold dairy farmers in the communities, she said.
Villar aims to solve the “dismal” output of the local dairy industry, which stands at only one percent of the demand.
She urged the government to follow the example of Thailand, where six million children are fed every day with 200 milliliters of milk produced by local dairy farmers. Villar said the model proved to be successful with Thailand now producing 70 percent of their dairy need.
“With this practice institutionalized, I am optimistic that we will be able to address two problems simultaneously: malnutrition among our children and poverty among farmers,” she said.